This time last year, I was preparing to leave my career in journalism behind.
A necessary change
After four and a half years in the industry, I finally made the decision to switch to public relations. But, as my former colleagues often taunted and teased me about turning to the ‘dark side’, I can safely say that the transition has been an extremely illuminating experience.
During my tenure as a business journalist, I was on the receiving end of the hard work of many PR professionals. Whether it was receiving press releases, organising interviews, collecting client comments or the often-tedious task of sourcing high resolution images, collaborating with PR agencies makes the lives of journalists a hell of a lot easier.
Although I’m sure many in the profession may be quick to disagree, or squirm at this admission, it is the truth!
Yes, journalism is a competitive, demanding and high-pressured job, but it can also be extremely exciting and rewarding. The thrill of being the first to break a story, working towards an impending deadline, meeting high-profile individuals, being privy to many major announcements and simply not knowing what the next day may bring were just a few of the things I thought I’d miss about being a journalist.
When my decision came to light, I found myself on the receiving end of the vitriolic questions journalists often pose to their target. But the majority of my contemporaries would simply want to know ‘why?’
Leaving a legacy
In recent years the rollercoaster ride of being a journalist turned into more of a repetitive slog where the twists and turns were becoming less frequent and lacked the thrill they once provided. In a world of economic uncertainty and squabbling politicians, the same doom and gloom headlines dominated the news in a never-ending cycle.
‘What legacy is this?’ I often asked myself. The realisation finally came that it was my time to stop and get off the rollercoaster. Another force pulling me to the ‘dark side’ was the positive experiences I had during my frequent encounters with PR professionals from a plethora of different agencies. I was always intrigued about the variety of clients just one PR agency could work with and the diverse ways in which they strategically operate to reach a certain outcome.
Collaborating with multiple businesses; learning about different sectors; promoting beneficial initiatives; marketing the latest products or just simply learning and refining new skills are a number of aspects which made PR much more appealing to me than journalism. My days of finishing one story then going on to the next were over.
My PR journey begins
Not long after joining Open Communications, I was introduced to what it really meant to be an agency that delivered PR, social media and content marketing strategies for brands and businesses across a range of sectors.
The concept that public relations industry revolved around writing press releases and making phone calls all day was quickly eradicated. My reality check was quick. PR professionals are multifaceted, motivated individuals who need to prioritise their own time, strategically plan out each day and week and expect the unexpected.
The biggest eye-opener for me was initially monitoring the scale of the day-to-day tasks the team carries out and how they all form part of a results-driven process which is applied to every single client.
Gone are the days where I’d be churning story after story for newsletter after newsletter, hoping and waiting for the monotony to end. My daily activities now comprise a range of tasks I didn’t have the means to complete just one year ago.
With no two days ever the same, I can be writing copy for a clients’ new website; laying out a comms strategy to enter new markets or creating promotional content one day, to researching the latest innovative features in a specific field or carrying out a social media campaign across multiple platforms the next.
It is also worth mentioning that the good old-fashioned press release still plays an important part but it’s certainly not the sum of the piece! This is the sort of legacy I want to leave, and I cannot wait to see where my PR career continues to take me.